Court of appeal rules against Sask. in carbon tax challenge, says carbon tax is constitutional
The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal has ruled against the Government of Saskatchewan in its appeal of the federal carbon pricing plan.
The decision was signed by three of the five judges on the panel.
“The Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act is not unconstitutional either whole or in part,” the decision reads. It notes that the sole issue before the court was whether or not Ottawa has the constitutional authority to enact the pollution pricing act.
In a 155-page decision on the reference case, Chief Justice Robert Richards wrote that establishing minimum national standards for a price on greenhouse gas emissions does fall under federal jurisdiction.
The greenhouse gas phenomenon and the science of climate change were not contested by any party involved in the appeal.
The decision came down at 12p.m.Friday, followed by a tweet from Premier Scott Moe who voiced his displeasure.
The province says its next step is to take the decision to the Supreme Court.
"This decision confirms that putting a price on carbon pollution ... is an effective and essential part of any serious response to the global challenge of climate change," Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said in Ottawa. "It is time for Conservative politicians to stop the partisan games and join in on serious and effective climate action."
McKenna challenged Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, Ontario's Doug Ford, Saskatchewan's Scott Moe and federal Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer: "Will you stop blocking climate action and join us in fighting climate change?"
Saskatchewan had asked the court to rule on whether a federal carbon tax is constitutional. The province said the levy is unconstitutional as it would not be applied evenly across all jurisdictions. Saskatchewan has argued that Ottawa has “no authority to second-guess provincial decisions,” and believes its own emissions pricing plan is acceptable.
Legal experts have noted the fact that the courts haven’t yet experienced climate change as the specific context for a constitutional issue.
Ottawa says it has the power to impose a carbon price on provinces because Section 91 of the constitution says it can pass laws “for peace, order and good government of Canada.” A lawyer for the federal government said this power can be asserted because climate change is a matter of national concern.
Two judges on the court of appeal panel refuted that claim, stating in the decision “Part 1 of the Act is invalid, being an unconstitutional delegation of Parliament’s law-making powers,” citing S.91 (3) of the constitution.
The province closed arguments in February by stating that the issue before the court of appeal is one of divisions of power, and not truly an issue of climate change.
Saskatchewan, along with New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba did not have their own carbon-pricing plan by April 1, and was subject to the federal plan.
Manitoba filed papers in federal court last week for its own challenge.
The national carbon price starts at $20 per tonne and is expected to rise $10 every year until 2022.
With files form the Canadian Press.
Read the full ruling here: